Thursday, February 22, 2007

WOMAD invites Cambodian masters

WOMAD, the music festival that encourages & expounds music, arts and dance from around the globe, will be held near Malmesbury on 27-29 July this year and amongst the 70+ artists that will perform, two Cambodian master musicians, Kong Nai and Ouch Savy, will join the event. Of them, the most famous is Kong Nai, a blind musician whose appearance is dominated by thick dark sunglasses and a toothy, face-splitting grin. He lives in a corrugated metal hut in his Phnom Penh slum; his chapei dang veng, a two-string long-necked guitar, carved from wood and inlaid with polished bone, cost him $250 and is probably worth more than his home. Kong Nai, 60, is known for his witty improvised song and satire, for the stories that he hears, stores in his head and retells in rhyme. Once a regular at the Royal Palace, Kong Nai now teaches students on a shaded wooden pallet outside his house. There is also an outside possibility that Kong Nai will perform at The Barbican in London during his visit to England.

As I reported in my blog on 30 December, The Barbican is already hosting Weyreap's Battle, performed by members of the Amrita Performing Arts company, as part of the 2007 Barbican Bite Festival with performances on March 30, 31 and April 1 in London. This is a rare opportunity to watch classical Cambodian masked dance - don't miss it.

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